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Sat Dec 29, 2012, 10:12 AM

Victim Blaming. 2012: the year when it became okay to blame victims of sexual assault [View all]

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/2012-the-year-when-it-became-okay-to-blame-victims-of-sexual-assault-8432716.html

At Caernarfon Crown Court earlier this month, a 49-year-old man was convicted of raping a teenage girl. Jailing the rapist, the judge told him: “She let herself down badly. She consumed far too much alcohol and took drugs, but she also had the misfortune of meeting you”.

It was the latest in a wave of examples of victim-blaming, a phenomenon that Christina Diamandopoulos, of the Rape Crisis charity, describes as the “myth that women are responsible for men’s sexual behaviour. From this stems the idea that what a woman wears, says, where she goes, or what she does can make her responsible for the crime committed against her.” The problem is compounded by common misconceptions, such as the idea that all rapists are strangers, who attack in dark alleys at night. In fact, Ms Diamandopoulos says, “most rape is committed by partners, ex-partners and men who are known to the woman”.

After news emerged of the sexual abuse of young girls in Rochdale, one victim told Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour: “Quite a few people rang social services: school, the police … even my own dad … basically they told my mum and dad that I was a prostitute and it was a lifestyle choice. And because I was only six months off turning 16, they wasn’t going to do anything.”

Meanwhile, this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival made headlines for featuring a high number of jokes about rape and domestic violence. Such “jokes” are also endemic online.“We must wake up to the way that social media enables and magnifies abuse and harassment of women,” Ms Dustin says. The popular social news website Reddit has entire categories dedicated to “raping women”, “hot rape stories”, and “choke a bitch”. And an article on the student website UniLad in January said: “Eighty-five per cent of rape cases go unreported. That seems to be fairly good odds.”



This blame the victim mentality will most likely continue as long as people believe rape is a crime of sexual desire. It is not, these men don't have an overwhelming sexual desire, they wish to dominate, control, and cause pain.

I don't think it's a new phenomenon or isolated to sexual abuse, either. There seems to be a resurgence of victim blaming in many cases surrounding violence against women. The 'war on women' we have witnessed this year has added to this. The linked article discusses the Aiken comments we all know about as well as the Julian Assange case that was dismissed as “bad sexual etiquette”.

It's a sad state of affairs ingrained in culture and society.

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